Fright night recipes
FOOD AND DRINK SPECIAL: QUEEN AND COUNTRY
From a chilli con carne with that fiery kick, to poached pears doused in port, Q&C is here to provide the best entertaining and recipe ideas for Halloween and Bonfire night - along with a brief history of two of autumn's most famous evenings.
Photography: James Wilkinson // Styling: R K Williams // Food: Michael Richardson
Halloween, October 31st
It’s that time of year again. The days are getting colder, the nights darker, and the leaves are falling in elegiac haste. Summer's been replaced with the golden hue of autumn and Halloween is almost upon us which, for many, means time for dressing up and having a good old-fashioned knees-up.
Halloween (also known as All Hallows' Eve) is a celebration observed in a number of countries on 31st of October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Hallows' Day. It begins the three-day observance of Allhallowtide, the time in the liturgical year dedicated to remembering the dead, including saints (hallows), martyrs and all the faithful departed.
Many Halloween traditions are believed to originate from ancient Celtic harvest festivals which have pagan roots, such as the Gaelic festival known as Samhain which signalled the end of summer and the official beginning of winter.
Our modern commercial world has let us forget a lot of the ancient origins of this special time of year, particularly as shops are stocked with witches hats, macabre masks, scary spiders and other spooky ephemera. But beneath the merchandise resides the root of why we all still love celebrating this most ghostly of dates, and that is to invite friends over, light bonfires and make some good seasonal food. It's also a great excuse to get dressed up, get your best fright wig on and become a sexy witch, ghoul or demon. And if Halloween falls midweek, there's no need to fret as most people tend to plan their party on the nearest weekend.
As well as throwing a costume party, the more serious side of Halloween is in remembering the dead. The pumpkins we carve are not there to scare off the spirits that are said to roam about at this time of year, but to show that we’ve made a place to welcome them in.
Think about all those people you’ve lost over the years, family and friends who are no longer with us. By remembering them, you are entering into the true spirit of the season. The party of Halloween is then thrown in their honour, essentially making it the great feast of the dead very much like the Day of the Dead in Mexico with its graveyard vigils, sugar skulls and flamboyant dressing up.
In the past a Dumb Supper was prepared on the night of Halloween, essentially where a place is set at the table for the deceased. Once the food is served everyone would eat in silence, remembering all those who had passed away. It was also a time to foretell the future. One such method was to take off the apple peel in one continuous strip; then if it hasn’t broken, it’s thrown on the floor over the left shoulder to reveal the initial of a future lover.
We all like the thrill of Halloween as it takes us back to childhood, to trick or treating, apple-bobbing, creating Jack-O'-lanterns by carving pumpkins, or turnips depending on which part of the country you come from. So in the spirit of all things ghoulish and ghastly here are a few fiendish recipes to get you into the season and make your Halloween party go with a scream.
Roasted Pumpkin Pie
In Britain we don’t really make much use of our Halloween pumpkin, but with a rise in popularity of celebrating Halloween here, our shops are awash with our lovely orange veggie friend from the beginning of October. This is the time to embrace a classic tradition from our American cousins and start making pumpkin pie. I love this recipe as it uses honey as the sweetener, and since it's quite a sweet filling I don’t use sweet pastry for this. Instead I like to flavour my pastry with cinnamon, but ginger would work equally as well. This pie would be wonderful for a Halloween celebration or served at the end of your Samhain ritual.
Ingredients (Serves 8)
For the pastry
350g (12 oz) plain flour
2 scant tsp ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
200g (7 oz) butter
125ml (4 fl oz) cold water
For the filling
1 medium pumpkin
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon salt
4 eggs, lightly beaten
250g honey, warmed
Grated zest of 1 lemon.
100ml whipping cream
Make the pastry by sifting together the flour, salt and cinnamon together into a bowl.
Add the water one tbsp at a time. Keep adding the water until pastry is moist enough to hold together.
Turn the pastry out onto a lightly floured board. Roll pastry out to approximately ¼ inch thickness. Line a pie dish (20 or 23cm) pressing pastry into the bottom. Remove any excess pastry hanging over the sides of the dish with a knife or a rolling pin.
Cut pumpkin in half, and remove seeds. Lightly oil the cut surface. Place cut side down on a baking tin lined with foil and lightly oiled. Bake at 170’c until the flesh is tender when poked with a fork. Cool until just warm.
Scrape the pumpkin flesh from the peel. Either mash well or puree in a blender.
In large bowl, blend together 500g of the pumpkin puree, spices, lemon zest and salt.
Beat in eggs, honey, milk and cream. Pour filling into a prepared pastry case.
Bake at 200’C for approximately 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into the filling comes out clean. Cool on a wire rack.
Serve warm or at room temperature topped with a good dollop of Cream!
An Alternative to Candy Apples is Spooky Halloween Ghosts
You will need
6 – 8 ripe pears
2 – 3 bars of white chocolate
1 packet of chocolate drops
1: Bring a pan of water to boil and place above it a glass mixing bowl so that you can melt the chocolate in.
2: Take one Pear at a time and dip them in the White Chocolate until they are fully covered and then stand then on a plate with some grease-proof paper upon it so they don’t stick.
3: Before the chocolate cools take the chocolate buttons and use two for eyes and a third one for a mouth and it’s as simple as that. Allow them to cool for about 2 – 3 hours and you have the prefect alternative treat for a spooky party.
Halloween food should be fun, it also has to be easy and quick to make and something that the kids will love. The next Halloween treat is a winner and can be made at the same time as you make the Spooky Ghosts. They are called Witches and wizards wands.
Witches and Wizards Wands
You will need
1 – 2 Packets of Bread Sticks
White or Dark chocolate
Decoration such as hundred and thousands, candy pearls, edible glitter etc
1: in the same bowl you heated the white chocolate for the Spooky Ghosts, add some more chocolate so you have enough to dip the bread sticks into.
2: Dip about a 2.5” of the bread-stick into the melted chocolate and then roll it in the decorations.
3: place then upright in a bowl and allow to dry and there you have perfect witches and wizards wands that are a great treat for both adults and kids alike.
Halloween Pumpkin Jam
After spending so long carving out pumpkins, why not put that orange flesh to good use and make this delicious pumpkin jam? This jam has a smooth and creamy texture and a real taste of autumn. The cinnamon here raises spiritual energy to a higher level, and pumpkin can be used for healing. Don’t waste those pumpkin seeds either; roast them off with a little oil and salt for a lovely snack, leave them out for the birds or you could even use them for divination!
Ingredients - (makes approx 4 jars)
1.35kg pumpkin, peeled and finely diced
1 orange, quartered and sliced
1.35kg granulated sugar
1 tsp lemon juice
2 tsp ground cinnamon
In a large preserving pan over a medium heat, combine the pumpkin, orange, cinnamon and water. Cook for approximately two hours until the pumpkin is soft and breaking apart.
Add the sugar and the lemon juice, mix well to combine and break up the pumpkin and bring the jam to the boil. Begin testing for the setting point by placing a little of the jam onto a cold plate. If it sets and wrinkles when you push it with your finger, it is ready.
Transfer the jam into sterilised jam jars. Seal immediately and leave in a cool, dark place for 8 hours before using. This jam keeps well too, so store some in the fridge; it makes a wonderful cake filling
Serve with hot buttered toast or crumpets on a chilly autumn afternoon.
If you want to be a bit more daring and go further afield, why not plan some weekend trips out into the countryside where there’s plenty of Halloween events going on at this time of year. Many are run by the National Trust, such as ghost walks and gatherings at many of the grand country houses, castles and ruins, all of which have a few spooky tales to tell. Whatever you plan to do, enter into the spirit of the season and enjoy all things that go bump in the night.
Bonfire Night, November 5th
Remember, remember the 5th of November! Early November has that tang of rotting leaves in the air; the morning mists filter out the sunrise and diffuse it like a Turner painting. This is the time to burn the rubbish, wrap up warm and gather with friends to watch the many spectacular fire-work displays that happen all over the country.
Bonfire Night is known to many as Guy Fawkes Night, a British annual commemoration of the failed Gunpowder plot of 1605 which is observed on 5 November. Back on that night, Guy Fawkes was arrested while guarding explosives that had been planted beneath the House of Lords in a bid to assassinate King James I. To celebrate the King surviving, people lit bonfires around London, and months later the Observance of 5th November Act was passed which introduced an annual public day of thanksgiving for the plot’s failure.
There’s nothing more lovely than to assemble around the burning embers of a bonfire keeping your hands warm from the nip of cold air and eating seasonal food. Traditionally its jacket potatoes, toffee apples, parkin and gingerbread, and here are a few recipes that are perfect for when catering for a group of friends and utilising some of the seasons produce.
Poached Pears in Port
Pears are great to eat as a desert especially if you poach them. It’s easy too, simply peel the pear of its outer skin then pop them in boiling water where you’ve added a good measure of Port. Take the pan off the heat and leave the fruit in the water to simmer until it cools down. You can also add spices to the water such as cinnamon and cloves, but you don’t have to add any sugar, as the pears will be sweet enough. Serve them at room temperature with either clotted or pouring cream, or for a healthier alternative use crème friache on the side. These will go well with a bonfire night Chilli and some good old-fashioned chocolate brownies, which are always a favourite.
Bonfire Night Chilli –Con-Carne
Rice of your choice
500g mine beef
Colmans chilli con carne mix
Waitrose Kidney beans in Chilli sauce 400g
Waitrose garlic and chopped tomatoes 400g
1 chopped onion
That’s the basic recipe but to add that seasonal warmth you can add the following to your own taste.
Beef stock cube
3tsp tomato purée
250g red wine
1: Start by softening the onions in some butter, seal the mince beef breaking it up as you go.
2: Once the beef has cooked along with the onions reduced the heat.
3: Add the chopped tomatoes and simmer for about 5 mins then add the kidney beans and colmans mix. Then give it a good stir.
4: Cooking time should take no more than 20-25 mins. For a quick dish.
5: For the special touch you can add the extra ingredients and slow cook for 2-3 hours.
6: Lastly prepare your choice of rice and serve. We recommend a side of tortillas and a sour cream dip to accompany the dish.
Orange and Chocolate Brownies
200g dark chocolate (70% cocoa solids)
200g unsalted butter
300g granulated sugar
2 tea spoons of vanilla extract
125g plain flour
Pinch of salt
Zest of a large orange and the juice
For extra yumminess
75g white chocolate
75g milk chocolate
1: Grease and Line 20-30 cm tin. Melt the butter and the dark chocolate over a pan or in microwave. Whisk the egg, sugar and vanilla extract until thick and creamy.
2: Mix in the melted chocolate and butter. Then add the flour and orange zest and juice.
3: Pour in the tin and add the chopped extra white and milk chocolate chunks. Spread randomly across the tin.
4: Bake for 25 mins until cracked on the top and centre is just set. Leave to cook for 20 mins and cut to shape if you wish.
5: Sprinkle a little orange zest on top putting to one side to give these bonfire bites that special touch.
Traditional Yorkshire Parkin
You might also want to try making some Yorkshire Parkin, a traditional sponge cake eaten on November 5th, this dark moist cake made with molasses and oatmeal is the perfect treat for an evening stood round the fire with friends and family. Have a lovely bonfire night, stay safe, keep all pets indoors and wrap up warm from the chilly night air.
500g plain flour
250g natural soft brown sugar
175g black treacle (molasses)
175g golden syrup (corn syrup)
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp bicarbonate of soda
1 tsp ground mixed spice
1 tsp sea salt
3 tsp ground ginger
3 large eggs (beaten)
250ml milk (slightly more if needed)
1: Preheat your oven to 180’C
2: Grease a large flat roasting tray, or loaf tin or cake tin.
3: eat the eggs together in a small bowl.
4: Melt together the butter, sugar, treacle and golden syrup in a large, heavy-based saucepan, over a gentle heat for a few minutes – do not allow this mixture to get too hot. When everything in the saucepan has melted and mixed together take off the heat and allow to cool slightly.
5: In a large mixing bowl stir together all the other dry ingredients and make a well in the centre.
6: Gradually add in the cooled, melted butter, sugar and treacle mixture into the well, stirring to coat all the dry ingredients and folding them in. Finally add in the beaten eggs, and then the milk and mix thoroughly. If the mixture is a little dry add in a little more milk to loosen it. It needs to be wet enough so that the oats do not soak up all of the moisture while baking.
7: Pour the mixture into the prepared tin and cook for 50 to 60 minutes until firm and set,
8: Remove the cake from the oven and leave to cool in the tin for 15 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to completely cool down. Store the Parkin wrapped in greaseproof paper in an airtight tin for a minimum of 1 day and up to a week before serving.
9: Serve with a simple fruit compote of gooseberries, apples or blackberries or simply spread with a little butter.
Trick or treat? Happy Halloween...